Opinion: Strip-Searching Moses and Stop-and-Frisking Jesus

Monday, April 09, 2012 - 11:13 AM

This weekend, I read a lot about a crowd of protesters who ignored the warnings of authorities and made an unauthorized, no-permit journey across the water. I heard about a man who was wrongfully killed because "law" wasn't applied judiciously and "justice" knew no restraint. There was buzz about dissenting voices who didn't just believe in reforming the system, but in radical transformation.

This was not an Occupy March. This was not a vigil for a boy in a hoodie. This was a holiday weekend.

Passover and Easter are among the holiest days in their respective religions. At these sacred moments, we retell stories that animate our beliefs and have driven our communities for centuries. We recount the Exodus, in which the Israelites followed a man with a violent criminal past who had challenged authority. We recount the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, in which a man was made into a criminal by a system corruptly structured to criminalize him.

Both of these holidays ask us to repeat the stories and to learn from them. What I learned was that the Israelites would have been wrapped up in orange police netting if not pepper-sprayed, and that the apostles would have all been held over a long weekend until a Monday arraignment.

The Supreme Court would have approved strip-searching Moses. The NYPD definitely would have stopped-and-frisked Jesus. And both men would have been the subject of undercover surveillance as security state agents infiltrated their organizations to investigate radical behavior. No doubt a young conservative would have tried to catch an apostle on tape answering some gotcha questions.

The series of recent actions by police, vigilantes and the courts have all fit into an so-called "law and order" culture that too willingly violates, imprisons, criminalizes and humiliates our own citizens. Yet, both holidays remind us that "law" isn't always right and "order" isn't always just.

What both Moses and Jesus were up to is far more radical than most protest today. Today most of us try to fix a system; they, more like the spirit of the hard-core Occupiers, want to reject the system completely. Many of us are willing to vote for change within a lethargic structure. Very few of us would be willing to challenge or leave that structure entirely.

Those radical philosophies should remind us to be bolder in our demands for change. And the lessons of the holidays should also remind us to demand restraint, respect and a truer understanding of justice from those "law and order" actors in our society.


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Comments [3]

DC Cal from Wasington, D.C.

Although the idea behind this story is cute, and I don't disagree with the motives behind the recent social protests, it was not the message of those protesting that was lacking. Here in Washington, D.C., public parks were completely destroyed, health hazards were created by failing to maintain a sanitary living condition during Occupy movements. Where once there might have been a moral high ground, by failing to respect the environment, by also failing to verbalize a specific tenet and act in accordance with rules dictating how to achieve such a standard the Occupy movement has seemingly collapsed on itself. Where in the beginnings of this movement many like me could have appreciated the message of thousands gathering in peaceful protest, by failing to create a message it has since waned.
I am atheistic, but I know that if Jesus were walking amongst the neo-protesters he would see only pale comparisons between himself and those denizens of our country taking to the parks in order to smoke grass. Where you might establish the sad state of our country by saying he would be frisked, I believe any ardent fan of his would be.more comfortable had the Passion played out with that as it's resolution. In regards to Moses being strip-searched: Moses gave up a spot in the royal family to WALK FOR FORTY YEARS IN THE DESERT! How can anybody try and offer a comparison between two arch-type characters that embody specific characteristics because of set and established circumstances such as crucifixion and slavery by saying that they would be subjected to the rigors of todays law enforcement agencies.
If I went through TSA amd was searched, found posessing a bottle of liquids over the allowed amount, then whipped, beaten, and forced to carry the instrument of my execution up a gnarly hill, then yes, I could agree with anything I read before in your story. This article makes a flawed comparison, mostly because we are living in a time affected by the attacks of 9/11, and have had knee-jerk reactions in regards to security in transit, and harsher regulations on protests.
When the workers of America have been whipped, and imprisoned, or killed for failing to perform mindless tasks of ancient Egypt's grandeur, or the messiah again returns with a spiritual tenet, and to save man from sin, why then, certainly then, can a hackneyed comparison be made using their likenesses, about the plight of modern Americans.

Apr. 10 2012 02:52 PM
political pop


Apr. 10 2012 10:44 AM

Is the "National Defense Authorization Act" signed by Obama which some say is unconstitutional along with a half a billion going to the IRS to enforce Obamacare which some say is unconstitutional examples of constitutional law and order?

Apr. 09 2012 04:17 PM

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